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12 Ways to Love Yourself Better

By: Gay Norton Edelman

You can’t shop with a maxed out credit card or drive on an empty tank. And you can’t serve your clients, or for that matter have a joyful, contented life, when you’ve got nothing left for yourself. In truth, self-nurture is just as vital—more, even—as keeping track of your bank balance or knowing how much milk is in the fridge.

This is not the mean selfishness your parents and teachers may have warned you against as a kid. No. It’s enlightened self-interest, a recognition that we cannot give what we do not have.

Sometimes you have to put yourself first. Conscious, mindful, gentle attention to your own needs and wants, small and large, will help you feel energized and motivated. Plus: You’ll be an inspiration to your clients!

Where to begin? Pick something that makes you think, Hey, I could do that! Start where you are. This is not about achievement. It’s about sustaining you at your best.

Right now

  1. Drop your shoulders.Take a slow deep breath. In. Out. Be aware of your hands, your feet. Take another. And another. Breath awareness becomes body awareness. When we more connected with our body, our minds are less likely to spin out.
  2. Affirm yourself. Try, “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.” Or, “I do beautiful work for beautiful money.” Or, “I have arrived. I am home.” On super-tough days, “Right foot, left foot, breathe.” Or, “I don’t have to be a hero, a saint or a martyr.” Or your own favorite. Experiment!
  3. Connect. Send a quick “I love you!” text to someone. Break up a long work day with quick calls friends to schmooze. Feels like you have no time? It’s fine to start the call with, “I just have ten minutes. Can we chat?” Or dip into your deepest inner self with a reading from a daily meditation book.

Every day

  1. Schedule transition time. Give yourself space between clients, and extra time between errands and other tasks. Slowing down is a form of self-respect. Scale back how often you check your tech.
  2. Meditate. If you already have a practice, gently honor it. If you don’t, just sit and breathe in and out for 5 or 10 minutes.. (See #1.) Too hard? Music is a quick and easy way to center.
  3. Honor your body. You deserve to eat beautiful healthy food! If you don’t have time to cook every night, batch cook on the weekend and freeze dinners, or individual portions for lunches.And move those muscles doing something you enjoy—walking, swimming, cycling, Zumba, yoga, etc. At the very least, stretch like a cat when you first wake up and from time to time during the day.


  1. Play!Take some time by yourselffor gentle, nourishing fun. Go to a movie. Browse the dollar store. Walk in the park. Go to the library or book store and thumb through a stack of goofy magazines. Remembering our silly side just plain feels good.
  2. Make a date.Get out with your partner, other family or friends. Real-time, face-to-face get-togethers boost health and feed our souls. If you have a regularly scheduled spiritual practice and you’ve neglected it, consider going back, or experimenting with another supportive community.
  3. Create something. A special meal, a craft, a drawing, the draft of a short story—these things fill us up. Maybe you even get a charge out mending or fixing something in the house. Just don’t push. De-stressing is about being, not about doing.


  1. Declutter.If your your home or office is over-the-top with piles of papers, tchotchkes, or other encumbrances to your peace of mind, start a gentle clarification program. Set a timer for 15 minute increments and go to it. Remind yourself how good clarity feels, and give yourself a pat on the back for making progress.
  2. Befriend nature. For those of us living where some of the year is cold and dark and brown, this can be tough. Yet puttering with your houseplants, bundling up and walking even when the weather’s awful, will settle your mind. Sometimes the connection is as simple as stepping outside and looking up at the sky.
  3. Pamper! Say yes to a long, hot shower, generous lotioning, a haircut scheduled before it’s urgent, wearing only clothes you love, buying the very best fruit for your snack, insisting on that silly movie you love for date night, going to bed early. You’re allowed. In fact, it’s required, because it’s what you and the people in your life absolutely need.

We want to hear your thoughts and experiences! What works for you? Let us know!

Gay Norton Edelman is a writing coach, former senior editor at Family Circlemagazine (where she specialized in self-care topics) and author of The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive.